The sermon in church today hit the spot. The pastor addressed a theological concept with which I have grappled for nearly two years - acedia. My interest was sparked in acedia upon hearing an interview with Kathleen Norris who wrote the book Acedia and Me. I have been reading the book for two years and have not made it past page 86. The concepts are too deep and too challenging for me to spend more than a little while on it at a time.
Therefore I was surprised when I saw it as the topic of a sermon, but anxious to see how it would be addressed. At one point, in the sermon, an associate pastor read a list of synonyms for acedia that the pastor described as symptoms. The list took up over a page of text. Despite the extensive list synonyms, none accurately sums up the condition alone. Acedia as a concept is one greater than the sum of its parts.
That is why I have struggled with it as an idea within the Christian church. Indeed, it is the foundation on which the deadly sin, sloth, was based. But sloth as we consider it today does not begin to describe or approach the ideas acedia encompasses. It represents a spiritual weariness that leads to a repudiation or abandonment of faith. The danger to the person suffering from acedia to the spiritual growth of a person is real.
Like doubt, another concept I have been exploring in Christianity, approaching acedia offers the opportunity for spiritual growth; however, the danger of acedia is that it can creep in as a growing sense of exhaustion or overcome one suddenly as in a frustration that leads to surrender. Both can be overcome, but both risk a profound loss of spiritual connection.
I look forward to continued study of the concept of acedia in conjunction with the concept of doubt as both barriers and facilitators to spiritual growth and formation.